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Forced to cancel your corporate event because of Coronavirus?  I've given virtual keynotes all over the world, addressing every industry on a wide range of global trends. As a Futurist and Physician I am also an expert on Coronavirus / COVID-19.  My clients include 400 of the world's largest 2000 corporations, often sharing a platform with their CEOs at their most important client or internal global events.

Massive audience engagement at my Virtual Events

My own Virtual audiences typically hang around for 30-60 minutes after sessions officially end, with extended questions times which I encourage. Typically 70-80% just don't want to drop off the Video Call, and just keep going - such is their total engagement, with maybe 70 more questions answered by me during that time.

I have had live audiences of up to 800,000 in a single webinar

As a global TV commentator, with hundreds of media appearances, I really know how to make Virtual Events work.

Examples include

- 800,000 live participants for my live webinar on green energy for Enel Power - 700,000 more watched afterwards

- 700 participants for Zoom webinar on future health care

- Main speaker at series of 7 weekly European events for a global Telco

- Appearing as a live hologram on stage in Turkey in front of 1000 people

Grab instant attention - why this really matters for virtual audiences

Grab attention right at the start.

Yes, that's a good rule anyway, but in virtual events it's absolutely critical.

So explain why you are so passionate about your topic, why the session really matters to their own future.

Attention spans are short anyway in a live event - even more so when people are at remote sites or at home.

So present your material powerfully, keep it short, and go for discussion rapidly.

Make content very visual in virtual events

Talking heads are really boring to watch - it's got to be visually exciting.

Most videoconferences are really awful visually.

Look at TV adverts and you will see an image every second and loads of video elements.

OK so that's a hard standard to achieve, but you get the idea.

Here's a video made in a great studio - with utra wide screen behind me.

Use really passionate and energetic keynote speakers

For virtual keynotes or events you need to ramp up the energy levels by 500% beyond what you would use in a large auditorium.

Most energy of a keynote speaker remains in the location they are broadcasting from!

So chose speakers that really know how to excite and engage virtual audiences thousands of miles away.

Don't ever pre-record - always go live in virtual events

Using pre-recorded content for remote audiences will end in disaster.

Too many factors are working against you - it will feel worse than watching TV.

You really have to work five times as hard to keep attention using video to connect to remote groups.

Work with your virtual audience

Keep interactive - by any means you can.  Really work at this.

Always greet each virtual site individually, and personally, calling out people by name if you can, unless there are more than 7-10 virtual sites.

And try to give them the opportunity to say hello right at the start of your virtual conference or seminar.

That means reading out comments coming in on WhatsApp or other platforms.

If you are connected to a limited number of virtual sites, be sure you involve them directly.

Use a small local audience if you can to give atmosphere

Keynote at Virtual conference with 800,000 participants, 30 in the room, 900,000 views since.

If you are broadcasting to a group or many groups, encourage them to use large screens / projectors.

Your aim ideally should be to appear life-size, full height, to your audiences.

At a recent Webinar, I had a physical audience of 30 and virtual audience of over 800,000.

Most keynote speakers communicate better with real human beings in the same room.

Get your broadcast location right for virtual conferences

Pay as much attention to lighting, ability to walk around and so on as you would normally on stage.

Head and shoulder shots, sitting at a desk, are really awful.

Speak carefully - use international English

Remember that it's harder to understand virtual speakers.

Sound may be less than perfect, and you may have less visual clues.

Make sure you can "see" yourself at their event

Ideally you want a camera feed from the back of the room where you are "performing" on screen.

So you can judge what movements and hand gestures work.

I also like to see my audience on a massive screen in front of me - when giving virtual keynotes.

Little things create virtual magic

And you can play amusing tricks, eg looking down to your right in your studio, as you address the Chairman on a big platform.

Imagine the setup: he's standing or sitting centre stage.  You may be on a big screen up to his left.  You're looking down at him (apparently) while he looks up at you.

Watch TV news - they do this all the time and it's all illusions.

If you do this correctly, you will get a laugh.

I once did a video keynote for a board of 18 people, and at one point I asked someone to come to the screen, where I handed something over to them.

Illusion of course but it kept attention.  "Here - let me show you..."

I walked right into camera and threw the item out of sight, as the other person produced the identical item from a pocket which I had sent by Fedex.

He then handed the item around.  "Yes Jerry - it's smaller than you think..." as I can see Jerry is holding it.

For the same meeting, I arranged to be life size, standing virtually in front of them, so my feet were on the floor (screen touching floor, projector).

I spent quite a lot of time making adjustments in their board room, 6000 miles away.

I got the organiser, while their room was empty, to tell me where each person would be sitting, and I turned to each until he said it looked like I was looking right at that particular seat.  I then got a Post It note and scribbled on the person's name, stuck to the wall.

So if I wanted to throw a comment or a question to - say - the Finance Director, I turned so it looked to the entire audience that I was now looking right at hime.

And if you want even more magic...

Delivering a virtual keynote as a hologram on stage

I thought you might be interested to see how I cloned myself onstage using a simulated "hologram". At this particular event one of "us" was in the future and the other in the present - so we could have a conversation with each other.

But I could just as easily have appeared live on stage as a hologram giving a virtual keynote.

Watch the short video I made during the process to see how it was done for a corporate conference audience of around 1000 in a theatre in Istanbul.

The effect was created using a small hologram screen in part of the stage but it is possible to extend the effect so that I am able to walk right across the stage from one side to another, appearing to interact with objects such as a table or chair, in a normal way.  It all depends on lighting to create the perfect illusion.  In this short video the lighting had yet to be finally adjusted so that the there is a slight difference between my virtual self and real self.

Any video elements that appear towards the top of the stage in a full width version, will also appear nearer to the audience.

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